Mazda CX-30 2.0 SP (2020) review

Mazda CX-30 2.0 SP (2020) review

Mazda’s all-new CX-30 would have been a worthy CX-3 replacement: more refined to drive and better to sit in.

The Mazda CX-3 is a mixed bag of virtues and flaws when measured against upper B-segment SUVs like the Honda HR-V and Toyota C-HR in Thailand.

Things to like about Mazda’s smallest SUV include its rev-happy 2.0-litre petrol engine and incisive on-road handling. In short, the CX-3 is actually the most fun car to drive in its class.

Downsides comprised of a hopeless boot, limited rear occupant space and prices a shade too high to really justify its position against its more practical rivals. Let’s not forget that practicality in SUVs should be more important than driving fun for most people.

Welcome to the CX-30, then, an all-new SUV from Mazda that should fix the problems for the CX-3 thanks to a bigger body designed to neatly slot below today’s CX-5.

In fact, the CX-30 sits on a platform shared with the 3 C-segment sedan/hatch; the CX-3 employs the smaller floorplan of the 2 B-sector Ecocars.

Apart from being bigger in size than the CX-3, the CX-30 gets the familiar 2.0-litre petrol engine but tuned to a higher 165hp (same as in the 3 and 9hp more than in the CX-3). To top things off, the CX-30 has a similar price range of 988,000 to 1.199 million baht.

In other words, the CX-30 would be a worthy replacement for the CX-3, which is now over five years old in its current generation. However, Mazda insists the two SUVs will still co-exist in Thai showrooms. 

The maker has even made it so clear that the CX-3 will be updated again soon (with some sources pointing to a lower price point for it). It appears that Mazda desperately wants to extract every last bit of the CX-3. So for the ease of you dear readers, the CX-30 is a million baht SUV; the smaller CX-3 (it won’t be rebadged as CX-20 yet, we hear) is set to become an 800k variation.

Despite boasting competitive dimensions, the CX-30 probably won’t beat the HR-V for outright space and practicality. But the CX-30 is certainly not inferior to the C-HR, which suffers from an exterior design backfiring in claustrophobic quarters for rear occupants.

Mind, the CX-30 isn’t as airy either because the window line is quite high. As well, the front occupant and driver should also find the dashboard set a little too high. It sometimes feel more like a sports car than family-mover in the CX-30, not to mention the highly snug seats.

Inspirationally speaking, though, the driving cockpit is nicely designed and feels even more special in the 3 in spite of the familiar, intuitive infotainment screen and steering wheel that is equally good to look at and hold onto. Too bad the instrument panel is the semi-digital type amid the world of new cars turning to fully electronic style.

Thanks to the latest vehicle electrical structure, the CX-30 comes equipped with a host of driver-assist technologies unrivalled in numbers among competitors. Sure, they are scattered in the three trims according to prices available in the CX-30. But for similar money, the CX-30 tends to offer more, along with other kit, than in rivals.

Like in the CX-3, the chassis of the CX-30 has been tuned on the sporty side of things and feels almost like in the 3 except for its slightly higher ride height. The same use of a torsion beam rear suspension in the CX-30 can also be felt whereby outright grip could have been better at high speeds. 

Even so, the CX-30 steers and handles more neatly than in the C-HR, which, in isolation, still does a decent job in delivering a sufficient balance between ride and handling. What the CX-30 does better than in the CX-3 is the suppression of external noise for enhanced comfort when cruising.

Since the CX-30 is heavier than the CX-3, it’s only logical that it gets more horsepower despite sharing the same E85-capable engine block and six-speed torque-converter automatic.

It’s a lively motor, in the CX-30, but it needs to be pushed on demanding roads to really get a kick out of things. Like in today’s 3, it’s time that some kind of forced induction comes into play to improve real-world tractability.

Sure, this naturally aspirated unit isn’t inferior to those used in the HR-V and C-HR. But let’s also not forget that Toyota offers a hybrid version on top of the range and Nissan’s pending Kicks will also come with an electrified petrol engine.

To top things off, MG already has a full electric version of the ZS priced at 1.19 million baht, not to mention the slightly bigger but similarly priced HS which employs a petrol-turbo engine. Honda and Toyota do have petro-turbo tech but have yet to forward it to any of their offerings in Thailand.

So while the CX-30 is a much better SUV overall than the CX-3, it could have still been made better with more relevant drivetrain tech to truly stand out in its class.

What we have at the moment is an SUV that offers the most driving fun in its class, if that really matters to the CX-30’s potential buyers. The CX-30 is more a cure for the CX-3’s ills at such a price level.

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